USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, July 14 - 20, 2011

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

Iranian Journalist Ordered To Serve Jail Sentence
A prominent Iranian journalist has been ordered to report to Tehran's Evin prison to serve a sentence handed down to him last year by Tehran's Revolutionary Court, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports. In December, Mashallah Shamsolvaezin was sentenced to 16 months in prison on charges including "spreading propaganda against the Islamic republic regime" and insulting President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 7/20/11)
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Top China Newspaper Shuts Down Investigative Unit
One of China's leading newspapers has shut down its respected investigative unit, an editor said Tuesday, an apparent victim of a broad clampdown on political dissent and the media. The sudden move has sparked concern about the future of watchdog journalism in China, which has gained strength in recent years despite a ruling Communist Party censorship system aimed at ensuring favourable media coverage for the government.
See the full article (AFP, 7/19/11)
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Terrorist Magazine Celebrates Its Most Epic Fails
Previous issues of a jihadi lifestyle magazine published by al-Qaida's boldest affiliate celebrated the group's operations. The new one celebrates - and tries lamely to spin - al-Qaida's biggest failures. The sixth issue of Inspire, the English-language webzine published by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, is all about death. But not American death - their own. Osama bin Laden is the subject of numerous florid eulogies.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 7/19/11)
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Jordan Journalists Sue Police over Beatings
The Jordan Press Association says it plans to sue the police department after 15 journalists, including Al Jazeera's senior journalist in the country, were beaten up as they covered a demonstration on Friday in Amman. The announcement comes one day after four policemen suspected of attacking the journalists were arrested. "The union will file individual and collective lawsuits against the public security department," Tareq Momani, the JPA president, said on Sunday at a sit-in outside the association.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, 7/17/11)
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Clinton Praises Turkish Leadership, Questions Crackdown on Journalists
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while praising Turkey's rise as a regional and economic power, on Saturday urged the government to improve its record on freedom of expression and equal protection for all citizens. Speaking at a live talk show hosted by CNN Turk, CNN's sister network, the diplomat expressed concern about the reported jailing of about 50 journalists.
See the full article (CNN, Elise Labott, 7/16/11)
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Turkmen Journalist Threatened For Blogs About Explosion, Casualties
An RFE/RL correspondent in Turkmenistan has been warned by the authorities about his reporting on the deadly explosions at a weapons depot near the country's capital last week. A fire at an armory on a military base in the city of Abadan on July 7 is believed to have set off a series of explosions that sprayed ammunition throughout the city, causing tens of thousands of people to be evacuated as many homes and other structures were burnt down or damaged.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 7/15/11)
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Internet and Social Media

Tech-savvy Taliban Fights War in Cyberspace
The war in Afghanistan entered cyberspace on Wednesday when the tech-savvy Taliban said their phones, email and website had been hacked to spread a false report that the movement's spiritual leader, Mullah Omar, was dead. Although the Islamist group banned television during its time in power between 1996 and 2001, its communication strategy in the decade-long war now includes a website, mobile phone text messages, emails and posts on Twitter and Facebook.
See the full article (Reuters, 7/20/11)
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China's Online Population Rises to 485 Million as Access by Mobile Phones Spreads
China's online population soared to 485 million as of the end of June as use of mobile phones to surf the Web spreads, an industry group reported Tuesday. China's communist government promotes Internet use for business and education but tries to block access to material it considers subversive or pornographic.
See the full article (AP, 7/19/11)
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U.S. Innovation Adviser: 'Internet Freedom is Not a Regime-change Agenda'
Alec Ross is U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's senior adviser for innovation -- a job that has him developing new and innovative ways to use technology to promote American diplomatic efforts in everything from ethnic conflicts to the promotion of human rights and free speech. On July 14, Ross said, contrary to what Iranian leaders seem to think, U.S. efforts to safeguard Internet freedom are not aimed at promoting regime change in authoritarian countries like Iran.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Golnaz Esfandiari and Alec Ross, 7/18/11)
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Egypt's Top Social Media Activist Finds New Foes in Tahrir Square
It's broiling hot in Cairo's Tahrir Square. For the second time in a year, furious Egyptians have packed the epicenter of this year's revolution against Hosni Mubarak, trying to regain their stalled momentum from reactionary forces in the military. Once again, Ahmed Maher, a top social media activist, is in the thick of it - and not without controversy.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 7/18/11)
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Blogger Mehdi Khazali Arrested, Again
Outspoken Iranian blogger Mehdi Khazali, the son of a hard-line ayatollah, has been arrested again after being summoned by intelligence officials, the opposition "Sahamnews" website reports. This is the third time in the past two years that Khazali, who is best known for his blog and his criticism of the Iranian establishment and President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, has been arrested in Tehran.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 7/18/11)
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Transparent Government, via Webcams in India
That is the premise for the webcam that a top government official here has installed in his office, as an anticorruption experiment. Goings-on in his chamber are viewable to the public, 24/7. In an India beset by kickback scandals at the highest reaches of government, and where petty bribes at police stations and motor vehicle departments are often considered a matter of course, Oommen Chandy is taking an online stand.
See the full article (New York Times, Vikas Bajaj, 7/17/11) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Man Indicted in Latest US 'Homegrown Terror' Case
A US grand jury has indicted a 22-year-old man for allegedly recruiting Islamic extremists to kill Americans and commit attacks on targets within the United States, federal prosecutors said Thursday. Emerson Winfield Begolly, of New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia for allegedly soliciting Islamic extremists via the Internet, according to the Justice Department.
See the full article (AFP, 7/15/11)
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Pentagon Wants a Social Media Propaganda Machine
You don't need to have 5,000 friends on Facebook to know that social media can have a notorious mix of rumor, gossip and just plain disinformation. The Pentagon is looking to build a tool to sniff out social media propaganda campaigns and spit some counter-spin right back at it. On Thursday, Defense Department extreme technology arm Darpa unveiled its Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program.
See the full article (Wired, Adam Rawnsley, 7/15/11)
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TEDGlobal 2011: Social Media Game Aims to End Extremism
A social media game with Arab super heroes at its heart has been launched on Facebook. The man behind the project, Suleiman Bakhit, hopes that Happy Oasis can create positive role models for children who might otherwise be enticed by extremist views. The game launched this week and has already attracted 50,000 followers.
See the full article (BBC, Jane Wakefield, 7/14/11)
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A Web of Support
At 6:54 pm the first bomb went off at Zaveri Bazaar, a crowded marketplace in South Mumbai. In the next 12 minutes two more followed in different locations in the city. With telephone lines jammed, many Mumbaikars turned to a familiar alternative: they posted their whereabouts, and sought those of their close ones, on social networks.
See the full article (Economist, 7/14/11)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

Changing the World One Map at a Time - Patrick Meier
This video is of a presentation given by Patrick Meier at a conference on blogs, new media, and digital society. He talks about about new media, crowdsourcing, crisis mapping, live maps, crisis response, civil resistance, digital activism and check-in's, drawing from his experience with Ushahidi. Examples from Kenya, Haiti, Libya, Japan, the US, and Egypt are used.
Visit PeaceMedia
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